The premise of the column is simple; work with restaurants of all kinds in this amazing city to explore what they have to offer and what makes them unique. In a city like Toronto, the choices are sometimes daunting and the food reviews and critics can be snotty and too complicated for their own good. So why not keep this easy?
Traditionally, Drinks. Appetizer. Main Course. Dessert. All along with a bit of information about what makes them our choice for Daniel’s Dish and why you should try them right away!
nota bene, 180 Queen Street West (416) 977-6400
I haven’t ventured down Queen Street West when it comes to Daniel’s Dish, and I felt it was time to visit this part of Toronto. Nota Bene is one of those spaces I’ve been meaning to visit for quite some time now; with their signature yellow accents on the fascade of the building and located in the hub of the city core, this restaurant has made a name for itself as one of the best.
They’ve recently begun a new venture, based on the travels of owner, Yannick Bigourdan around Europe. He discovered that not only could food and wine be elegant, but cocktails as well. So, Nota Bene has launched a Gin program for its clientele that is one of the best I’ve experienced in Toronto.
I’m also presenting a bit of an evolution of Daniel’s Dish where I show you the #1 G&T in the city with some of the best small plates to accompany them. Although it may not have been a full course meal experience, this Daniel’s Dish with nota bene offers you a destination not only for their delicious wine list & menu, but for a bar experience you have to see to believe.
The Gin & Tonic. Most people immediately think of red Dixie cups filled with Beefeater and Schwepps or an old woman when this drinks gets mentioned. Fortunately for us all, nota bene is about to change that perspective for all of us.
The G&T list is tailored to you upon arrival; 10 Gins from around the world, all with different flavour profiles and intensities are available. Next, your choice of three tonics are presented including my personal favourite, the house made NB Tonic. The ingredients include Tubinado sugar, Cinchona and citrus. The colour produced is a deep amber and gives this classic cocktail a depth like you have never tried. Lastly, your 3 ice choices include crushed, cubed or a large ice-cube.
Served in a bespoke-type fashion, you can tailor your cocktail to your liking with dried juniper berries, hibiscus and fresh cucumber. This is not your dixie cup cocktail from your University days and I encourage those who thought they don’t like gin to try this experience and dare you not to love it. I personally recommend The Sipsmith Gin from The UK with its strong aromatic and hearty flavours with two slices of cucumber and a few hibiscus leaves over a large ice cube.
To accompany this high brow happy hour, the NB bar snacks menu was created to satisfy any craving you may have and offers great choices to share with your loved one or with a group of friends. Here are my top three choices to try from the menu:
The Hamachi Ceviche Tostada is an interpretation of a ceviche which is playful and elegant. Mildly salty but mostly creamy, the flavours are balanced in this one bite sensation. Avocado, fresh crema and coriander are the perfect pairing for an aromatic G&T and leave you wanting more. Hamachi is traditionally mild-mannered and doesn’t overpower the palette with a strong fishy taste. Not your classic ceviche, I’d recommend starting with this mild flavoured dish as to not lose its delicate flavours as your night progresses.
The Sweet N’ Sour Fried Chicken was Julio’s favourite. With strong flavours like lemongrass and ginger, these morsels of succulent chicken leave just the right amount of spice lingering on the tongue thanks to the Thai chilli. Served with toothpicks to keep your fingers clean, this dish embodies what a well executed small plate should be; full flavour, not too large and satisfying in all the right ways. Making not to enjoy this second on my next visit to really enhance the sweetness of NB G&T against the mild heat of the dish.
Lastly, the Porcini Arancini balls are a must! Lightly fried for a fun crisp exterior and served with truffle aioli, the earthiness of the mushrooms and the creaminess of the Parmigiano within make for beautiful decadence. When I think about this dish, I remember it being bite sized bliss and I don’t normally like mushrooms! So from a non believer to a believer, I wouldn’t let you leave without trying these!
This isn’t a normal Daniel’s Dish, and that is because this isn’t a normal cocktail experience. I assure you that it is the #1 G&T I’ve yet tried in the city and one of the higher end experiences that you should get out to try right away. They have made a believer out of me and I know that they can do the same for you.
For more behind the scenes of this and other Daniel’s Dish visits, follow my Instagram!
Photos: Julio Reyes
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